Singapore GE2020: Ministers caution voters not to assume PAP will be returned to power effortlessly

SINGAPORE – With every constituency set to be contested, it would be a mistake for Singaporeans to think the People’s Action Party would be returned to power effortlessly come Polling Day on July 10, two ministers from the ruling party said on Monday (June 29).

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told reporters that dealing with Covid-19 in the past six months has taught him not to take Singapore’s progress for granted, and in the same vein, the ruling party must work hard to earn “each and every vote”.

Speaking during a Zoom video conference, he said: “It would be a mistake for all of us to think that going into an election, the PAP will be returned to govern effortlessly.”

Sharing his sentiments, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah said during the same video conference that the western part of the island was being hotly contested this time.

“Every single constituency is being contested, and you cannot assume that the PAP will take all the seats. We never (make that assumption) because we do not take our voters for granted,” she said at the event to unveil the PAP candidates for Tanjong Pagar GRC.

The two ministers were responding to comments by Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh on Sunday, when he urged voters not to give the ruling party a clean sweep of all 93 seats.

The WP has said it would contest 21 of the seats, while other opposition parties have announced plans to do battle for the rest.

Ms Indranee, pointing to the Covid-19 pandemic as the biggest crisis confronting Singapore since the British withdrew their troops from the country in 1971, said a strong Government would be able to better deliver its plans and schemes to overcome this crisis.

“Make your vote count and to make your vote count, vote PAP, because capable government, a government with a strong and clear mandate is really in the best interest of Singaporeans and Singapore.”

She added that it was not necessary for opposition candidates to be elected to have a say in Parliament as the Non-Constituency MP scheme guarantees there will be 12 opposition members in Parliament should the PAP win all the seats.

Mr Chan, who is the PAP’s second assistant secretary-general, said it was important for the party to get a “clear and strong endorsement” from the people.

“I agree that each and every vote matters – to send a signal to the Government (about) whether we are on the right track, whether we want to continue to have this Government, a united and strong Government that is working with fellow Singaporeans to lead us out of the difficult moments that we have now.”

He urged Singaporeans to scrutinise the manifestos of other parties and ask themselves whether their proposals would work, be executed well, and whether they trusted that party to take care of Singaporeans.

“It’s very easy to promise many things. The first question that we have always to ask is – how do we fund it? Do we take it from current spending? Or do we take it from the reserves? Or do we increase taxes in order to fund a programme?” he said.

He added that it was not enough for opposition parties to merely “ask some difficult questions” in Parliament and not have a plan to deliver on their promises.

Singaporeans, he said, were concerned about the economy and their safety, and were looking for a team with “plans, and the ability to execute”.

“From our sense of the ground, our daily interactions with our residents, I think there is one main (concern), and that is jobs.

“In the next few months, everyone is concerned whether they can keep their jobs, whether they can take care of their families, and whether they can still have a good future going forward.”

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